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Scientific Tropes in Modern Iranian Politics
February 20 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)
Series: Kamran Djam Annual Lecture Series at SOAS
Speaker: Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi (University of Toronto)
Lecture programme: https://www.soas.ac.uk/lmei-cis/events/file127178.pdf
This lecture is free to attend and no registration is required. Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis.
Kamran Djam Annual Lecture at SOAS: Scientific Tropes in Modern Iranian Politics: Engineering Governmentality
The second lecture by Professor Tavakoli, “Engineering Governmentality,” explores the concurrent political ascendency of Shi‘i clerics and the national prominence of engineers and engineering schools in the aftermath of the 1979 Revolution. In a conjoined historical and epistemological analysis, Professor Tavakoli explains how the Shi‘i clerical commitment to the building of a divinely inspired society converged with the professional pursuits of engineers and engineering companies. This conversion of commitments and interests hastened the fusion of Islamic theology and eschatology with engineering rhetoric and constructional concerns. This is evident in the emergence of a cluster of novel conceptions such as “the geometry of theology,” “the geometry of religious knowledge,” and the more important “divine geometry,” which is used specifically by Iran’s Supreme Leader to refer to the “Islamic Republic System.” These tropes and analytics are utilized for the advancement of policies involving “cultural engineering,” “religious re-engineering,” “mind engineering,” “soul engineering,” and even “engineering spirituality.” Unlike the prerevolutionary period, many cabinet and parliament members in the four decades after the revolution were engineers with close ties to engineering schools and companies, which constituted two fundamental pillars of power and knowledge in the Islamic Republic. With the professional success of engineers, Iranian seminary schools have been producing a new generation of multi-disciplinary Islamic scholars (mujtahandis) who have supplemented their seminary education with engineering school degrees. Dually titled for their seminary and engineering education, they are hailed as “Hujjat al-Islam Muhandis.” While Hujjat al-Islam is the title for seminary school graduates, “muhandis” is the title given to engineering school graduates.
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